2013-03-08 11:27:22 - It’s now more than ten years since Sitemorse started working with Socitm, the organisation for IT managers working in local government, an important partnership that feeds key data into Socitm’s ‘Better connected’ annual survey of all UK council websites.
Socitm’s influence over the last one and a half decades has seen a general improvement in the websites of local government, and according to the Socitm Programme Manager Martin Greenwood, parts of the survey depend on information provided by Sitemorse and other organisations that could not be easily measured ‘in house’.
“In the last 15 years of this annual survey we have seen generally a pretty significant improvements across local government websites, although to be fair, because people’s expectations of websites are rising all the time, we sometimes have to move forward to stand still” he told us.
“Many council websites are still got a lot to do but there have been significant improvements across-the-board, and accessibility is one area in
particular where local government has taken a lead.
“Local government presents unique challenges when putting together websites, both because of the very wide area of services that local councils provide and also the disparate nature of the audiences served - everyone from parents and the elderly to planners and professional people and everything in between. Developing navigation that all these groups can easily follow can be difficult” he added.
The relationship with Sitemorse came about after early league tables of council websites had caused some controversy. “I met with Sitemorse and was able to say to my colleagues that, although we dislike league tables as such, some of the information we were seeing was just not available to anyone else – we should not be ignoring what we were being told that went into the league tables” Martin said.
“Our survey is now in its fifteenth year and has been supported by Sitemorse for ten of those years. In the time we have been working with them, Sitemorse has become a very recognised provider of 'web confidence', and it’s great to be supported by their unique capability' Martin added.
The “Better connected” survey covers the websites of all 433 local authorities in the UK, and aims to
identify good practice in the development of local authority websites based on extensive evidence-based research.
A team of reviewers has carried out a structured survey with 225 questions for local authority websites, followed by a series of shorter surveys on specific topics. This research has been supplemented by additional sets of data supplied by partner organisations such as Sitemorse.
The quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying users.
It’s also a key indicator for website managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.
The Index benchmarks are published and can be viewed by all. Web managers who really want to get to the heart of improving their site's performance may wish to go one step further and look at the Sitemorse products which will help them build governance and control into their web presence.
Using Sitemorse’s products such as Governisation and the Web Manager’s Toolkit, which immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any website, will help demonstrate real improvement and ensure control, and ultimately confidence, in any organisation's web presence. They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management.
Founded in 1986, Socitm is the membership association for all ICT professionals working in local public services, including the third sector and suppliers to those sectors.
Socitm provides a widely respected forum for the promotion, use and development of ICT best practice. It is also plays a leading role in ICT-facilitated local government transformation in the UK.
Members are drawn primarily from local authorities, the police and fire services, housing authorities and other locally delivered public services. With around 1700 members from 550 different organisations including 98% of all UK local authorities.